Tag: Portland OR

New Video: Lost Horizons Teams Up with Ural Thomas on a Shimmering and Soulful Single

Lost Horizons — Cocteau Twins‘ and Bella Union Records label head Simon Raymonde (bass. guitar, keys, production) and Dif Juz’s Richie Thomas (drums, keys, guitar) — each ended a 20+ year hiatus from creating music with the 2017 release of their full-length debut together, Ojaiá, (Spanish for “hopefully” or “God willing”) to critical praise. “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world,” Thomas said in press notes at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music . . . And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

Since the release of Ojalá, the state of the world has gotten much worse. And while many of us had begun to feel hope that things may turn for the better with a Biden Administration, the events yesterday in Washington, DC has quickly brought that sense of hope and possibility crashing to the ground. Things are dire: our socioeconomic and political systems are collapsing, exposing both the worrisome gaps in our systems. The fight for a better and fairer world continues, as it always does but interestingly enough, one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been immediately fulfilled: Raymonde and Thomas will be releasing a new album’s worth of together, In Quiet Moments.

Written and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, In Quiet Moments‘ material is inspired by the sense of existential doom, fear, uncertainty and anxiety of the larger world surrounding them and everyone else, as well as the same emotions and sensations of their own personal lives: Just as the duo were settling into the studio to craft the largely improvised, instrumental bedrock of the album’s material, Raymonde’s mother died.

As a response, Raymonde threw himself into his work as a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.” The duo forged ahead, crafting 16 instrumental tracks that they sent to an eclectic array of guest vocalists including Ural Thomas, Penelope Isles‘ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim Smith, Gemma Dunleavy, the innocence mission’s Karen Peris, Horse Thief‘s Cameron Neal, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio‘s Dana Margolin, John Grant, Ballet School‘s Rosie Blair, Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (as her solo recording project KookieLou) and an impressive list of others.

When they sent the instrumental tracks to their then-prospective guest vocalists, Raymonde suggested a guided theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” Roughly half of the album’s lyrics were written during the middle of pandemic-related lockdowns but as it turns out, Raymonde in particular, saw a sliver lining: people were forced to slow down and take careful stock of themselves and their lives. Interestingly, after having heard a lyric written by Ural Thomas, Raymonde singled out on praise “in quiet moments,” and thought it would be a perfect album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful.”

Although generally centered around loss and heartbreak, the album’s material is imbued with a sense of hope. And as a result, the album subtly leans in the direction of rebirth more so than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” Thomas says. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” That shouldn’t be surprising as both Lost Horizons albums find the duo and their various collaborators on a journey through a dizzying area of moods and voices.

Last year, I wrote about three of the album’s previously released singles:

“Cordelia,” a lush track centered around atmospheric synths, gorgeous steel pedal guitar from David Rothon, elegant strings from Fiona Brice, and John Grant’s brooding vocals. The song is a meditation on the passing of time, the inevitable changing of the seasons — but with the tacit understanding and acceptance that all things in our world are transient.
“One For Regret,” a dark and foreboding song centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming and Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin’s frantic vocals. While sonically, the song finds Raymonde and Thomas paying homage to the beloved sound and approach that won Raymonde accolades “One For Regret” is a meditation on the messiness of regret and loss, that acknowledges that regret and loss are a necessary part of life — and that the only way out is through.
“Every Beat That Passed,” an old-timey waltz centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, jangling guitars and Kavi Kwai’s Julia Ringdahl ethereal vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, In Quiet Moments’ third single sonically seemed indebted to Raymonde’s while being defiantly upbeat.

The album’s fourth and latest single, album title track “In Quiet Momtents” features Ural Thomas. Born in Louisiana in 1939, the seventh of 16 children, a young Thomas learned how to sing in church. His family relocated to Portland, where he would spend the bulk of his life.

In the 50s, Thomas became a professional singer, opening for the likes of Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder at the Apollo Theater. But by 1968, Thomas had returned to Portland. In terms of music, Thomas fell off the map, and not much is really known until the early 2010s when Scott Magee, a Portland-based soul DJ, was informed by the owner of Mississippi Records that Thomas — whose early records he regularly spun at this DJ sets — still lived in the area.

As it turned out, Thomas had been hosting weekly jam sessions at his home since the 1970s but seldom performed live. But Thomas and Magee started Ural Thomas and the Pain, an octet that backs Thomas. The act has released two albums so far, 2016’s self-titled debut and 2018’s The Right Time. So now that we went through the necessary background, let’s talk about the track: “In Quiet Moments” is a shimmering and slow-burning bit of old-school inspired soul meets shoegaze centered around twinkling keys, jazzy drumming, gently buzzing guitars and Thomas’ easygoing and gorgeous vocals. It’s a gorgeous and thoughtful track that evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions with a simple yet profound earnestness.

“Sometimes you just have a clear vision for a song and then try as you might, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and other times, you’re not quite sure where it’s going and then all of sudden it’s like The Matrix and you’re buzzing!” Lost Horizons’ Simon Raymonde says in press notes. ” I’d been talking to Ural and his team since I heard about him earlier that year, and they were all working on a new Ural Thomas and The Pain album, but just as I finished the bass part on our piece, which Richie had started at a session in London, my inner voice was screaming ‘ASK URAL TO SING!’ Scott and Brent who are his producers and write with Ural and in his band too, responded very positively to my enquiry and said Ural was into it, and it looked like they could do it all at their studio in Portland, AND film him at the same time as they were making a documentary about him! I couldn’t believe my luck. After he was done with the first half of the song I asked if he could make the ending spoken-word in the style of Gil Scott-Heron and he did something ad-libbed which I loved. I then asked Wendi Rose who sings with Spiritualized to add some of her beautiful vocals and I think this took it all to the next level. Paul Gregory and Jonathan Wilson also played some delicious guitar parts which were the fairy dust on top!”

“When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove,” Ural Thomas adds. “The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant. It took a quiet moment to go over it in my mind and then we were off and running with the tune. At times I feel strong and one with the world. At other times I feel tiny and solitary. In a way they’re two parts of the same feeling. That sense of being closed in and defined by walls became more real just a short while after we worked on the song. But we’re all those other things, too—connected, hopeful, with a long arc that will go beyond this time.”

The recently released and cinematically shot black and white visual for “In Quiet Moments” is split between footage of clouds passing the sun, stock footage of a slow pan of a forest, Thomas singing the song in the studio and other natural phenomena. It’s a fittingly gorgeous and thoughtful visual.

Now, as you may recall In Quiet Moments was slated for a two part release through Bella Union. The first part was released last month with the second part due February 26, 2021, along with the physical release of the entire album.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Parson Red Heads Release a Gorgeous Nostalgia-Inducing Visual for “Fall And Be Found

With 2017’s Blurred Harmony, Portland, OR-based JOVM mainstays The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — intended to do things much differently than anything else they did before: the band recorded and tracked themselves. They would set up drums and amps and furiously recorded their fourth album’s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late.

As the band’s Evan Way said at the time, “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band, and the band’s remaining members were frocked to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The band recruited their longtime touring guitarist Jake Smith to join the band full-time. They then decided that any new material they would write, would be be approached with a new lens.

The band’s fifth album Lifetime of Comedy was released last month through Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, and the album finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed and beloved sound, and allowing it to be remolded and remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Evan Way contends in press notes is among the most collaborative, they’ve written and recorded to date.

The Portland-based JOVM mainstays started recording Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year and much like countless acts across our globe, they quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. Once studios could reopen, recording sessions continued at a snail’s pace for small, very intimate sessions. With much of the album’s material being recorded in a decollate, touch-and-go period, Lifetime of Comedy seems imbued — and perhaps also informed by — a sense of perseverance and hope.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s released singles:

“All I Wanted,” a classic Parson Red Heads song that superficially sounded as though it could have been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions but with a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe that evoked the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness centered around incredibly earnest lyricism, born from lived-in experience.
“Turn Around” is a heartfelt deflation of devotion seemingly influenced by 80s and early 90s jangle pop that’s simple yet absolutely necessary. After all, sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”
“Coming Along,” song that manages to balance lush and anthemic instrumentation with the sort of introspective lyricism that can only come from a living a full and messy life. And as a result the song is an accumulation of weariness, regret, wisdom, resiliency and hope that seems to say “yes, life will break your heart sometimes but we find a way to love, to dream, to love — and that’s what makes life endurable.

Interestingly, despite its 2:47 runtime, Lifetime of Comedy’s fourth and latest single “Fall and Be Found” is an expansive bit of cosmic featuring shimmering, reverb-drenched guitar, strummed acoustic guitar, a propulsive rhythm section and an enormous, soaring hook paired with Evan Way’s plaintive vocals. Interestingly, “Fall And Be Found” is centered around two very different yet related things: the recognition of the wonderful, deeply human and seemingly fleeting moments of our existence (i.e., birth, childhood, friendship, love and the like) and the hope that better days are just around the corner. And as a result, the song is a much-needed blast of hope when things seem at their most dire, while arguably being among the most hopeful song of their catalog.

“The song, ‘Fall & Be Found,’ is about a belief in the possibilities of beauty and transcendence in this world, both natural and supernatural,” The Parson Red Heads’ Evan Way explains. “It’s about embracing the idea that there is so much more to this life and existence than we ever really take time to acknowledge while we’re in the thick of it. More so now than ever, life often seems to be full of chaos, pain, heartache, confusion — not always, but often. And when we’re in the midst of those seasons, it often seems impossible to realize that despite that, there is beauty, there is an unexplainable magic in life and existence. This song is an attempt to communicate that, and an anthem proclaiming a belief that one day in the future, I believe we will see that reality, and know it in a more full and true way. ”

The recently released video for “Fall and Be Found” is a feverish collage of nostalgia-tinged found footage of young couples in love, kids playing each other and their parents as well as footage shot on family vacations and childlike animation. And much like the song it accompanies, the video captures life’s beauty, joy and meaning — but while hinting at the fact that there’s more to this world.

“The video captures so much of that beauty, magic, and mystery,” the band’s Evan Way says. “It’s mysterious without feeling foreboding, and it visually communicates that mysterious, unknowable beauty surrounding us all in such a profound way. “

With the release of 2014’s “Splice”/”Sleep Attack” 7 inch and 2015’s Tom McFall-produced, self-titled debut EP, which featured “Warning Pulse” and “California (Will Burn),” the Portland, OR-based indie rock act Rare Monk received praise across the blogosphere, as well as college radio airplay.

In 2016, the Portland-based indie act went through a series of lineup changes that included the departure of their original guitarist and violinist, who was later replaced by Hugh Jepson. With Jepson’s addition to the band, the newly reconstituted quartet started writing material that’s seen as a marked sonic departure from their previously released work. The end result was 2017’s self-released, full-length debut A Future, which featured songs with bigger guitar parts, dueling leads and falsetto harmonies, as you’d hear on “Happy Haunting,” the quartet’s biggest track to date.

Never Really Over, the Portland, OR- based indie rock act’s sophomore album is slated for release next year — and although the material was originally written and recorded between 2018-2019, the album manages to capture our current moment with an eerie prescience. The central thematic thread is an omnipresent and seemingly unceasing dread: of the end of the world as we know it; of impending financial collapse, of a slow decline and devolution full of paranoia, the demonization of science, constant surveillance, persecution and cruelty at increasingly efficient scales, rampant greed, idiocy and inescapable death. While those initial fears have become frighteningly real, Rare Monk’s Dorian Aites says “Hope is definitely not lost, it’s just become more difficult. We’ll get through and we hope the songs help.”

“Statistic Vandals,” Never Really Over‘s latest single features shimmering, reverb-soaked guitars, angular bass lines, driving rhythms and ethereal vocals. — and while the song sonically seems indebted to OK Computer-era Radiohead, the song is centered around a seething and uneasy fury inspired by a word of constant data collection, aggregation and warrantless surveillance.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Kills Cover Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10+ year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink covering the critically applauded and commercially successful duo The Kills. And with the release of albums like 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side, 2005’s No Wow, 2008’s Midnight Boom, 2011’s Blood Pressures and 2016’s Ash & Ice, the duo — Alison Mosshart (vocals) and Jamie Hince (guitar, production) — have cemented a reputation for crafting a scuzzy and swaggering power chord-based blues and garage rock sound and approach.

Some time has passed since I’ve come across new material from the JOVM mainstays. Individually, the members of The Kills have been busy with their own creative projects — Mosshart published a book of poetry and photography and released solo material while Hince has been busy with production work. But interestingly enough, earlier this month the acclaimed duo announced that they would be releasing a career-spanning B-side and rarity compilation titled Little Bastards.

Slated for a December 11, 2020 release through Domino Recording Company, Little Bastards consists of material that date back from the band’s first batches of 7 inch singles released in 2002 up until 2009. The material has been newly remastered for release on CD, digitally and on LP — and it makes the first ever vinyl pressings for some of the tracks. A great deal of the compilation features covers — including the album’s second and latest single, a somewhat straightforward cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ oft-covered Halloween classic “I Put A Spell On You” that bristles with a feral sensuality.

Edited by the band’s Mosshart, the recently released video for “I Put A Spell On You” features live footage from shows in Portland, OR; Pomona, CA; and San Francisco. While capturing the duo’s live energy, the video makes me miss live music so very much. Sigh.

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.” 

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “We would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way fondly recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way recalls.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they relocated to Portland. 

With their first two albums, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver

2017’s Blurred Harmony found the JOVM mainstays actively intending to do things much differential than their previously released work — with the band recording and tracking themselves. They would set up drums and amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band, and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited touring guitarist Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date. 

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single was classic Parson Red Heads — a breezy yet carefully and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal. rousing sing-a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive vocals and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track possessed a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe, that evokes the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness. Interestingly, Lifetime of Comedy‘s second and latest single “Turn Around” is a shimmering and heartfelt declaration of devotion but unlike its predecessor, it sound as though it were influenced by classic 80s and early 90s jangle pop, complete with soaring organs. It’s the sort of sweet and timeless love song that’s deceptively simple yet absolutely necessary. Sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”

“‘Turn Around’ started as a lot of the songs I’ve been writing these days do – as a half-jibberish sung melody line, sung into my phone’s voice memo while driving,” The Parson Red Heads’ frontman Evan Way explains in press notes. “It stayed in that form for a good year before I found it, dusted it off, and brought it to the band. This song is a testament to the strength of the bands collaborative writing on this album. Everyone’s parts are so integral to the song’s small and simple beauty. It’s a simple love song, the lyrics a statement of devotion – in many ways, it is like a classic old Parson Red Heads song, in both theme and sound, but it has this element of The La’s or The Charlatans in it that I just love. And Raymond (Richards, multi-instrumentalist and producer) was able to help us get such a great mix of guitar sounds, 12-strings, Nashville strung electric – a great balance of being lush without being over-crowded.”  

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.”

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “We would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way fondly recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they would relocate to Portland.

Simultaneously, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver.

The Portland-based band’s fourth album, 2017’s Blurred Harmony found the band actively intending to do things differently than they did on their previously released work — with them and recording and tracking themselves: frequently, they would set up drums ad amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band — and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited their touring Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope.

“All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single is classic Parson Red Heads — breezy yet careful and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal, rousing sing–a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive falsetto and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track manages to possess a subtle free-flowing, jammier vibe. If you pay close attention, you can literally feel longtime friends creating something with a revitalized sense of togetherness.

Featuring a regretful and brokenhearted narrator, “All I Wanted” thematically is full of the hindsight and regret of someone looking back at the past — their past selves, their past mistakes and misgivings — and wishing that there was some way that they could undo it, so that they could remain in a relationship that they desperately prized above everything else. And yet, there’s a tacit recognition that while you may pine for the past, you can’t ever get it back. In fact, life does what it always does — pushes and forces you forward.

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New Audio: JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Releases a Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

Over the past handful of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Portland, OR-based doom metal act and JOVM mainstays R.I.P. And as you may recall, with the release of their first two albums, 2016’s In The Wind and 2017 ‘s Street Reaper, the Portland-based doom metal act quickly established a grimy, punishing and depraved take on metal that they dubbed Street Doom.

The Portland-based JOVM’s long-awaited, third album Dead End is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album’s sound is the result of the band going through a massive lineup change that involved the addition of a much more aggressive rhythm section. while also drawing from a broader and more diverse array of influences, including John Carpenter films, grungy professional wrestling and lo-fi hip-hop among others. In many ways, the album’s material is a decided move away from their earliest influences — i.e., Pentagram and Saint Vitus — and yet it may arguably be the most hook-driven batch of songs of their growing catalog. However, despite all of the other changes, R.I.P.’s thematic concerns have remained the same as always: death, insanity — and leather.

So far I’ve written about two of Dead End’s previously released singles — the Black Sabbath-like “Out of Time,” and the Headbanger’s Ball/Kill ‘Em All Metallica-like album title track “Dead End.” Dead End’s third and latest single “Moment of Silence” is another Headbanger’s Ball-inspired ripper, centered around enormous power chords, howled vocals and a mosh pit friendly hook — but with a cinematic quality that belies the scuzz and grime. d

New Audio: Portland’s Lore City Releases a Shimmering and Mesmerizing New Single

Currently based in Portland, the indie rock duo Lore City can trace its origins back to 2011 to when Laura Mariposa and Eric Bessel met in Brooklyn and started the band. The duo’s forthcoming third album Alchemical Task is the first batch of new material from the band in six years — and while it’s the follow-up to their sophomore album, 2014’s Kill Your Dreams, the album also finds the duo going through a radical change in sonic direction with their sound incorporation elements of psych rock, post rock and dream pop. 

“Lore City’s music is born from the transformational power of sound. We hand over words, instruments and rhythms; trading back and forth until everything belongs to both of us,” the duo explain in a statement. “Until we are indistinguishable. We create from the belief that we are all one, and that we’ve been here before. Song fragments are shimmering all around us, ready to transport. We tune in and transcribe. Deep knowing, alongside the unfathomable unknown is where we reside. Sonic soundscapes give way to archetypical figures and voices materialize. Sometimes we are just singing along with the ghosts that emerge from our chorus of effect pedals.” 

The duo go on to explain that their six song album “expresses how we are spiritual beings have a human experience — that’s our alchemical task.” The album’s latest single is the mesmerizing and expansive “Into Your Blue.” Centered around a repeated polyrhythmic pattern, layers of shimmering and droning synths and ethereal vocals, “Into Your Blue” is a slow-burning song meant to dial up and tune into a higher plane of existence. 

New Audio: Johnny Franco Releases a Classic Rock-Inspired Single

Johnny Franco is a Sao Paulo-born, Portland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  who has developed a cult following in his adopted hometown for high-energy street performances and stylish music. Building upon a growing reputation, Franco caught the attention of Sterling Fox, a producer who signed the emerging singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist  to his label, Blanket Fort Records. 

Franco’s debut EP, the four track Experience Report #1, which featured debut single “Treated Like Glass” was released earlier this year. And since the release of Experience Report #1, the Brazilian-born, Portland-based artist has been busy: he recently released the “Stay Real”/”Shelter The Light” double single — and “Stay Real” is a decidedly classic rock-inspired track centered around shimmering and shuffling  guitars, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook. And while bringing Springsteen, Bowie and Prince to mind, the song not only reveals a deliberate attention to craft, it possesses a simple yet profound message to stay positive during this uncertain, historical moment.